Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lo, The Queen Approacheth! The Way It Was, 23 November

1916---Little do Mother and Father Foote realise their newborn daughter, Harriet, will assume a mantle as the Queen of the Soaps at the ripe young age of twenty-eight---and under the stage name Julie Stevens---when she succeeds Virginia Clark in the title role of Frank and Anne Hummert's phenomenally popular, long-living The Romance of Helen Trent, on CBS.

[T]o the counterpoint of jangling commercials and top audience ratings, Helen Trent has threaded her perilous way toward true love for 15 minutes a day, five days a week, 52 weeks a year for the past 23 years. In those 23 years The Romance of Helen Trent (Mon.-Fri. 12:30 p.m., CBS Radio) has glowed during 5,900 chapters lasting 88,508 roseate minutes, to demonstrate "what so many women long to prove—that because a woman is 35 or more, romance in life need not be over." Bringing this inspiring message of hope to almost 4,000,000 listeners over the facilities of 203 nation-spanning stations, Helen has developed into 1) the queen of soap operas; and 2) the ideal of the romantically minded U.S. housewife of a certain age.

Helen is a beautiful, poised, glamorous costume designer, aged 35 (no change in 23 years). She is a widow, but not even her scriptwriters know who her husband was, or what ever became of him. Helen never tells. She is invincibly pure, relentlessly humorless (because her fans want heartthrobs, not laughs). Once, seven years ago, she walked uninvited into the stateroom of a man she had just met on shipboard. Faithful listeners were scandalized. Helen is now allowed to wear tight skirts and low-cut gowns, but she neither smokes nor drinks. Helen's enemy, Gossip Columnist Daisy Parker, drinks a "martini on the rocks," always specifying, "and no olive"—thus conclusively demonstrating her low moral stature.

Over the years Helen has materialized in the voices of only two women, the current one belonging to pert, blonde Actress Julie Stevens, 39-year-old wife of a TV executive, who has suffered through Helen's daily tribulations for the past twelve years. Just now Actress Stevens is pregnant. Helen would never get herself in such an unromantic predicament. She has been engaged for 23 years to honest Gil Whitney (David Gothard), but fate keeps her from the altar. In this, fate has been aided by a series of villains of whom Kurt Bonine is merely the latest. Almost all of them are millionaires, and the effect Helen has on them is generally deadly. She drove Brett Chapman, millionaire ' rancher, to exile in South America. Dwight Swanson, oilman, piloted his plane into a crash and died. Kelcey Spencer, motion-picture tycoon, went off a cliff to his death. But Dick Waring, a madman, was sane only with Helen.

---From "Ageless Heroine," Time, 6 August 1956.

An experienced stage actress as well, Julie Stevens will play Helen Trent to the end of the soap's life, while also appearing in the television series Big Town (1951-52). After The Romance of Helen Trent (1933-60) ends its long and distinguished run, Stevens retires to Cape Cod, where she finishes raising her family and---among other activities, until her death in 1984---hosts a regional radio show featuring theater reviews and other subjects.


1945: FIVE SLEEPING BEAUTIES---Vic (Art Van Harvey), Sade (Bernadine Flynn), and Rush (Bill Idelson) have a pleasant evening's newspaper reading interrupted when Uncle Fletcher (Clarence Hartzell) announces his plan to sleep in the courthouse yard, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (CBS.)

Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1947: PHIL SEES THE DOCTOR---Alice (Faye) wants overworked Phil (Harris) to see his doctor, who scares him into taking things easier, on tonight's edition of The Fitch Bandwagon. (NBC.)

Willie: Robert North. Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Remley: Elliott Lewis. Julius: Walter Tetley. Music: Walter Sharp, Phil Harris Orchestra. Announcer: Bill Forman. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat. (Warning: Aborted ending.)

1949: THE SECRET WORD IS "SKY"---And those getting a crack at it---after Groucho Marx gets his cracks at them, of course---include the father of a bride and the mother of a groom (who aren't marrying each other); a butcher and a housewife; and, a bail bondsman and a process server, on tonight's edition of You Bet Your Life. (NBC.)

Announcer: George Fenneman. Music: Billy May and his Orchestra. Writers: Bernie Smith, Hy Freedman, Groucho Marx.

1951: ARCHIE OPENS A TEA ROOM---A wealthy widow catches Archie's (Ed Gardner) eye, enough that he tells her he's managing a tea room, on tonight's edition of Duffy's Tavern. (NBC.)

Eddie: Eddie Green. Finnegan: Charles Cantor. Miss Duffy: Gloria Erlanger. Writers: Ed Gardner, Larry Rhine, possibly Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf.

1952: CHLOE, THE GOLD DIGGER---Phil (Harris), Alice (Faye), and Elliott (Lewis) have to act fast---and Oscar-worthy---if they want to stop a fortune hunter (Phil: "It ain't gonna do her nooooooo good---I know, I been diggin' around for years") from marching Willie (Robert North) off to the preacher, on tonight's edition of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show. (NBC.)

Little Alice: Jeanine Roos. Phyllis: Anne Whitfield. Julius: Walter Tetley. Music: Walter Sharp, Phil Harris Orchestra. Announcer: Bill Forman. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

1959: ONE FELLA'S FAMILY: HOMECOMING HOPE---From Book Cee Vee El Eye Eye, Chapter Em El Cee Vee Eye, page one; also, Wally Ballou visits a turkey farm, a chat with some of the audience young fry, and closing remarks as time evolves, on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (We're thinking it over . . . )

Writers: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1887---Boris Karloff (as William Pratt; actor/host: Starring Boris Karloff; Creeps By Night; The Fred Allen Show; The Martin & Lewis Show), London.
1888---Al Bernard (singer: The Dutch Masters Minstrels; The Molle Merry Minstrels), New Orleans; Nana Bryant (actress: The Fabulous Dr. Tweedy), Cincinnati; Harpo Marx (as Arthur Marx; comedian---and, believe it or not, the first Marx Brother to speak on radio: Various guest spots), Yorkville, New York.
1894---Ken Christy (actor: Fibber McGee & Molly; The Great Gildersleeve), Pennsylvania.
1896---Ruth Ettig (singer: Music That Satisfies; The Oldsmobile Show; The Kellogg College Prom), David City, Nebraska.
1903---Victor Jory (actor: Matinee Theater; Crisis in War Town; Hallmark Playhouse), Dawson City, Yukon Territory.
1912---Tyree Glenn (trombonist/vibraphonist, with Duke Ellington and His Orchestra: Numerous radio broadcasts and specials), Corsicana, Texas; George O'Hanlon (actor: The George O'Hanlon Show; Me and Janie), Brooklyn.
1915---John Dehner (actor: Gunsmoke; Frontier Gentleman; Have Gun, Will Travel), Staten Island; Ellen Drew (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Screen Guild Theater; Suspense), Kansas City; Natalie Park Masters (actress: Candy Matson), San Francisco.
1917---John Newland (actor: NBC University Theater of the Air), Cincinnati.
1925---Jeffrey Hunter (as Henry Herman McKinnies, Jr.; actor: Lux Radio Theater), New Orleans.
1930---Bob Easton (actor: Family Theater), Milwaukee.


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